It was just too good to be true. Less than a day after the world rejoiced that Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old Sudanese physician condemned to death for apostasy, was released from prison and her death sentence, Meriam, husband Daniel and two children were rearrested. According to the Daily Mail on June 24, the family was stopped at the airport while trying to leave the country by the Sudanese National Security Force, dubbed the “Agents of Fear” by human rights organizations.
Meriam’s rearrest presents problems for Sudan. Daniel Wani’s arrest presents a problem for the United States as Daniel is a U.S. citizen residing in New Hampshire. The couple’s children, Martin, 21 months, and Maya, one month, were also arrested with their parents.
According to the global social justice movement Hardwired, ‘They are now in the detention of the National Security forces. The family were (sic) trying to leave Sudan for a safe place. The children are with Meriam. They were arrested as well. We don’t have any information about what charges they face. But the National Security force does not have to take them to court. This is not a criminal matter, it a national security matter.’ The National Security Force does not work through the courts and can detain people indefinitely.
Apparently, Ms. Ibrahim and her family leaving the country for a safe place was such a threat it took 40 security agents to detain two adults and two very small children. Meriam’s lawyer Shareif Ali Shareif confirmed that the family was arrested at approximately 1230GMT.
Hopefully, the international attention focused on this case will rein in the National Security Force and keep them from spiriting the family away to a “ghost house” where horrific abuses and torture usually take place. Daniel’s brother, Gabriel Wani, gave a statement saying, “This is very concerning. It’s bad news. They should be let go as soon as possible. My brother wanted to get out of Sudan as fast as he could, and now this has happened.”
In its coverage of the case, the Daily Mail brings up an interesting point. While Meriam is a physician, Daniel Wani owns a mini-mart, barber shop and an agricultural project in Gedaref, the same state in which Meriam was born. Could business interests be behind this case? The men claiming to be Meriam’s relatives who filed suit against her for apostasy were totally unknown to her. They claim she was raised Muslim. Meriam’s father was Muslim, but abandoned his family when Meriam was five years old. She was raised in her mother’s Christian Orthodox faith.
However, according to Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, the Episcopal vicar for Khartoum, Ms. Ibrahim joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married Daniel Wani in December 2011. According to Father Kacho, “She has never been a Muslim in her life.” That wasn’t good enough for Sudan, however, who claims she was raised in a “Muslim environment.” That begs the question of why are other religions allowed to exist in this “Muslim environment.” Why was her father not judged apostate for marrying an Orthodox Christian woman?
So what’s behind the rearrest? Why did Sudan let her go one day and arrest her entire family the next? And while it may be business as usual in the Sudan, it is a slap in the face to the United States of America. Daniel Wani is an American citizen, now detained by Sudanese security forces who are not answerable to the law. It’s time for the American government to step up and get these people out of there. If negotiation doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to send in the Marines.